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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Though similar to the University's Academic Standing Policy, the Financial Aid Office (FAO) Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is a Department of Education requirement for all students receiving financial aid funds. The Financial Aid Office (FAO) SAP process is run independently from the University Academic Standing process.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Federal and state regulations require that all students who receive financial aid maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their degree. SAP is a federal policy that is applied to all students receiving Federal and/or State financial aid funds. The evaluation of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) SAP measures a student’s progress three (3) times per year and in three specific (3) areas:

Qualitative – A 2.000 cumulative GPA is required for a student to be making satisfactory academic progress.

Quantitative (Pace) – Students must complete at least 67% cumulatively of all attempted credits. Also called pace, the quantitative Satisfactory Academic Progress evaluation looks at the cumulative number of credits a student has attempted and completed, as well as a student’s overall progression towards completing their degree.

All credits attempted will be factored into the pace calculation, including withdrawals, failures, repeated courses and incomplete grades. Any of these will negatively impact a student’s quantitative calculation, however courses dropped during the published add/drop period do not count as credits attempted.

Pace is calculated by dividing the number of completed credits by the number of attempted credits.

Student has attempted 36 total credits and completed 30 of them successfully, their cumulative Pace is 83.333% (30 / 36 =.8333)

For the purpose of SAP, transfer credits are included in the calculation as attempted and earned credits. Please note that the university’s academic standing policy evaluates only credits taken at Salem State, while the financial aid SAP policy includes transferred credits.

150% Rule or Maximum Time-frame for Completion

Students receiving financial aid are expected to complete their undergraduate degree within 150 percent of the published length of the program. At Salem State, undergraduate programs require 120 credits for completion; students exceeding 180 attempted credits prior to degree completion will lose their eligibility for financial aid.  (120 credits x 150% = 180 credits)

Generally, for full time undergraduate students, this is equal to six years. Students who have not completed their degree within these parameters be ineligible for financial aid.


SAP Evaluation Time Periods

Salem State University's Financial Aid Office (FAO) evaluates Satisfactory Academic Progress for each term in which a student is enrolled, including the summer term. SAP is evaluated at the end of each term after the grading period for that term is closed.

Spring financial aid eligibility is reviewed at the end of the fall semester and a student’s eligibility for the fall semester will be evaluated at the end of spring** 

(**Students using financial aid toward their summer classes will be have their summer aid eligibility evaluated at the end of the  spring semester and re-evaluated for the fall aid after completing their summer classes)



Because SAP is tied directly to financial aid, students should know that their eligibility for the upcoming term will only be evaluated if a FAFSA is on file with the Financial Aid Office.

Generally, this is not be an issue for students between fall and spring semesters, however if at the end of spring semester, a student’s FAFSA for the upcoming term has not been received their aid eligibility will not be evaluated until a FAFSA for the upcoming academic year is received.


Student received financial aid in the Fall 2021 term– at end of the Fall 2021 term the student’s SAP is evaluated for Spring 2022 aid eligibility; if at the end of Spring 2022 term a student has not yet filed their 2022-2023 FAFSA their SAP will not be evaluated until a 2022-2023 FAFSA is received.


Satisfactory Academic Standing (SAP) Statuses and Impact to students


SAP ALERT – Students will receive an automatic email if their cumulative GPA is between 2.0 and 2.1 and/or their cumulative completion (pace) percentage is between a 66.6-70%.

  • The alert is designed to give students the opportunity to seek out support and take advantage of the many opportunities Salem State provides its students in order to take corrective academic actions.
  • A SAP ALERT has no impact to a student’s financial aid status or eligibility.

SAP WARNING - Students will receive an automatic email when their Cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 and/or their cumulative completion (pace) percentage falls below 66.6%.

  • A student receiving their first SAP WARNING will keep their eligibility for financial aid for the upcoming term.
  • If in that upcoming term (or the next term in which the student enrolls) a student fails to raise their cumulative GPA above 2.0 and/or their cumulative completion (pace) percentage above 66% their status will then change to SAP FAIL for either GPA, Pace, or both.

SAP FAIL (SAP Probation)- Students will receive an automatic email when their cumulative GPA is below 2.0 and/or their cumulative completion (pace) percentage falls below 66.6% for two (2) consecutive terms. A student receiving a SAP FAIL will lose their eligibility for financial aid.

  • Students failing SAP will be granted the opportunity to appeal the loss of their aid eligibility with the Financial Aid Office (FAO).
  • Students are allowed one (1) SAP appeal in their academic career (see Appeal Process).
  • Students on an approved appeal will be evaluated each term and must maintain a TERM GPA of 2.0 and TERM Completion rate of 66.6%.
  • Students will remain on SAP Probation until such time that their Cumulative GPA again reaches 2.0 and cumulative pace again reaches 66.6% or for three (3) terms, whichever occurs first.
  • Students on an approved appeal are expected to be in positive SAP Status after three (3) terms.
  • If a student on an approved appeal has not reached a positive SAP Status after three (3)  terms the student will lose their aid eligibility until such time they return to a positive SAP Status
  • If a student on an approved appeal fails to meet the TERM GPA and/or TERM completion requirements noted above, they will lose their aid eligibility until such time they meet positive SAP Standing (a cumulative GPA of 2.000 and a 66.6% cumulative pace.).

Maximum Time Frame (150%) Warning

  • 150% Warning: Students will receive an automated email once they reach 168 attempted credits.
  • Students receiving the 150% Warning notification should make an appointment with the Center for Academic Excellence to assure they complete their requirements before they lose their aid eligibility.

Maximum Time Frame (150%) FAIL

  • Once a student has attempted 180 credits, they will have failed SAP and their aid eligibility will cease.
  • The 150% Fail generally may not be appealed, but students reaching 180 credits may request a review of their attempted credits by the financial aid office. The financial aid office will then review a students’ attempted credits and under certain circumstances can omit some credits from the overall calculation

 Appeal Process

  • Students receiving a SAP FAIL (SAP Probation) will be allowed to appeal the loss of their aid eligibility once in their academic career at Salem State University.
  • Students eligible to appeal should log into navigator and click on “Tasks”
  • Students will find three (3) SAP “To-Do” items with further instructions:
    1. Self-Assessment Form
    2. SAP Appeal Form
    3. Academic Improvement Plan
  • Students appealing the loss of aid eligibility must complete forms 1 & 2 and then schedule an appointment with an Academic Advisor in the Center for Academic Excellence.
  • Both completed forms must be taken to their appointment with an academic advisor. Failure to complete and/or bring both forms to advising appointment will result in student needing to reschedule their appointment.
  • The academic advisor will review the self-assessment form and work with the student to create an Academic Improvement Plan.
  • The academic advisor will forward the students Self-assessment, SAP Appeal and Academic Improvement Plan to the financial aid office
  • The financial aid office will not review a student’s appeal unless all three (3) forms are completed.

Approved Appeals:

  • Students who complete the appeal process and have their appeal approved by the financial aid office will be reviewed each term to determine if they are progressing.
  • Students on an approved appeal are required to maintain a TERM GPA of 2.0 and a TERM Pace of 66% Completion of attempted term credits as they work towards raising their cumulative totals of GPA and PACE
  • Students on an approved appeal who do not meet the term GPA and Pace requirements (noted above) will lose their financial aid eligibility until such time they come back into a positive SAP Status on their own (cumulative GPA of 2.0 AND cumulative pace of 66%
  • Students on an approved appeal who find themselves in a situation that they must take an official Leave of Absence (LOA) must inform the advisor processing their LOA that they are on an approved SAP Appeal. The advisor will notify the financial aid office of the student’s situation:
    • A LOA results in term withdrawal (W grades) which would violate the students’ academic improvement plan.
    • The financial aid system will automatically assess all W’s as a violation of the Academic Improvement Plan and cease the student’s financial aid eligibility
    • By notifying us of a LOA, the financial aid office can determine if an override of the completion rate evaluation (PACE) is warranted for the term in question
    • If the financial aid office determines a PACE override due to a LOA is not warranted, the result will be a violation of the SAP appeal and the student will lose their eligibility

For a overview of both policies please see the University Academic Standing and Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Charts attachment. 

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